Remember the recent anthrax case in the US last year which led to the deaths of five people, with 13 others being infected?
Such was the hysteria at the time that US senators were forced to evacuate their offices for two months because they thought anthrax had found its way into the air conditioning system. The scare was also used to justify the military build-up in preparation for the war against Afghanistan. We were told that the person sending anthrax was a terrorist, possibly a supporter of Al Qaida or Saddam Hussein.
Bush and Blair are preparing to launch war on Iraq, but this could unleash opposition which they might find hard to contain.
US threats to unilaterally escalate the war have sent shockwaves around the world. Members of the French, German, Canadian and Japanese governments, all part of the western coalition, have expressed alarm and warned against precipitate US action. In Britain the normally pro New Labour 'Guardian' has come out against an attack on Iraq, and within two weeks of Bush's 'axis of evil' speech protests against war had been reported in Japan, Iran and South Korea.
A potential nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan looms over the subcontinent. The flashpoint is the state of Kashmir.
The British ruling class quit India in 1947. But as it did so, it divided the subcontinent between two independent states, India (supposedly secular) and Pakistan (a homeland for Muslims). Pakistan was a bizarre entity which had 1,000 miles of India separating its western and its eastern wings--a state of affairs that would last until 1971 when, amidst tumult and war, the east broke away and became the state of Bangladesh.
Distinguished writer Edward Said on a new initiative to end Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Since it began 15 months ago the Palestinian intifada has had little to show for itself politically, despite the remarkable fortitude of a militarily occupied, unarmed, poorly led, and still dispossessed people that has defied the pitiless ravages of Israel's war machine. In the US the government and, with a handful of exceptions, the 'independent' media have echoed each other in harping on about Palestinian violence and terror, with no attention at all paid to the 35 year Israeli military occupation, the longest in modern history.
Judith Orr explains why the state of Britain's railways is producing a political crisis for New Labour, while Gareth Jenkins blames years of underinvestment.
It was only 2,000 workers. Hardly enough to shake a majority government off course. Yet within days of the first South West Trains strikes the air of crisis around the government threatened Stephen Byers' position. ScotRail drivers refused to work rest days and stopped one in four trains running. Arriva train drivers returned a 17 to one vote for strike action, and even commuters are planning a passenger strike on 1 March . The media was suddenly full of talk about a return of the 1970s.
Thirty years ago Britain's workers were on the offensive. We reprint an article from 'Socialist Worker' which explains how solidarity and socialist politics can strengthen the workers' movement.
1972 was a tremendous year for Britain's working class. The struggle rose to new heights, both in terms of the number of workers involved, the size of strikes and their length, and above all in the quality of the struggle. There have been far more large-scale and prolonged strikes this year than in the previous ten years. November and December figures have not yet been published, but there is no doubt that the total number of strike days has reached or exceeded 30 million this year.
RMT activist Greg Tucker explains how growing radicalisation is leading to a rift between New Labour and the unions.
The RMT leadership was always proud of the deep links between Labour and the union at all levels. At the top the RMT sponsored half the shadow cabinet and had great expectations of a Labour government. A significant number of union activists had been encouraged to become Labour councillors and at the grassroots the union boasted the highest density of party membership of any trade union.
The history and myths behind Japan's imperial dynasty
Japan's Crown Princess Masako gave birth to a girl in early December - no ordinary child, this, but potentially the heir to an imperial dynasty that claims a 2,600-year unbroken line. The press, when it was not using the language of a stud farm to discuss the problems of a family 'running out of its stock of males' because no boy babies had been 'produced' since 1965, filled its pages with stories and pictures of happy flag-waving subjects.
Fantasy writer China Miéville looks at the ideas and work of JRR Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings.
In 1954 and 1955 a professor of English at Oxford University published a long, rambling fairy story in three hardbacks. And nothing much happened. This was the 1905 of fantastic literature - a dress rehearsal for the revolution. That revolution came in earnest ten years later, when the book, The Lord of the Rings, was published in the US in cheap, pirate paperbacks, along with rapid response authorised versions. And they sold. A generation of students, hippies and potheads found hidden meanings in legends of power, wisdom, magic and secret knowledge.